Fer­rari finally ready to be cham­pi­ons, says Webber

Daily Mail - - Racemail - By JOE DOWNES Chan­nel 4 is the home of free-to-air For­mula 1 in the UK.

SE­BAS­TIAN VET­TEL and Fer­rari are ready to chal­lenge Lewis Hamil­ton for the world ti­tle when the new sea­son gets un­der way in Mel­bourne this week­end. The Scud­e­ria have flat­tered to de­ceive af­ter strong test­ing per­for­mances in pre­vi­ous years, but nine-time grand prix winner Mark Webber thinks they will live up to the hype this time round. ‘Fer­rari have been very good at per­form­ing when the grand­stands are empty in pre-sea­son,’ said Webber, a pun­dit for Chan­nel 4. ‘Then the sea­son starts, the Ital­ian in­flu­ence comes into play and they get pan­icky and do wacky stuff.’ But that doesn’t put him off back­ing Vet­tel to come out on top in the sea­son-open­ing Aus­tralian Grand Prix this week­end. ‘I think Vet­tel will win,’ said Webber. ‘In pre­vi­ous sea­sons Lewis has been more com­fort­able with the car than he is this time. The Mercedes has been more dom­i­nant at this point pre­vi­ously. ‘Fer­rari had a great pre-sea­son and are ahead of where we ex­pected them to be. Red Bull are there too so it will be re­ally close. Those top-three teams are go­ing to be on a pretty sim­i­lar level.’ Webber spent the fi­nal seven years of his ca­reer with Red Bull be­fore re­tir­ing af­ter the 2013 sea­son. The Aus­tralian says they will find it tough to over­haul Mercedes and Fer­rari this year, but have ev­ery chance with his com­pa­triot Daniel Ric­cia­rdo and 19-year-old Max Ver­stap­pen at the wheel. ‘Ver­stap­pen’s the dark horse,’ said Webber. ‘He’s phe­nom­e­nal for his age. He has that win-at-all-costs ar­ro­gant streak. He is good in all con­di­tions. It’s like he can see things in slow mo­tion and has time to re­act. It’s great to watch. ‘The jury’s out on that Re­nault en­gine in the Red Bull last­ing the course of the sea­son. That’s the only bit I’m wor­ried about for them and it’s hard for me to pick be­tween Fer­rari and Mercedes. It’s go­ing to be fas­ci­nat­ing.’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.